Even on a Saturday when the focus should finally shift away from the SEC it still doesn't.
Such is the power of the most dominant football league in the country.
Sure, there are plenty of interesting games this weekend: Kansas State at Oklahoma State, with both 3-0 (though the Big 12 looks to be down overall); Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin in Chicago (if you can handle those grating accents for three hours-plus) and even 3-0 Rutgers at 3-0 Michigan (okay, just kidding on the latter. Wolverines will romp).
Maybe even Clemson at N.C. State, in one of those something's-gotta-give games (either Clemson's offense wakes up or the Wolfpack's explosive offensive solves the Tigers' rugged defense).
The reality is, the most significant game of the weekend involves a couple of SEC wannabes in the glitzy setting of Jerry's World in Arlington, Texas. That's where 3-0 and No. 7-ranked Texas A&M and 3-0 and No. 16-ranked Arkansas square off.
The SEC can't help itself. It always has at least one nationally impactful game every week.
On to the picks.
DUKE over Kansas, giving 16
Why this game? Because I like winning and Kansas specializes in losing -- and losing big. Blue Devils have shown some firepower this year but were hurt in their win over Northwestern by three turnovers and a rash of penalties, which is how a 27-0 lead became a 30-23 victory. Kansas is still Kansas, the poster school for a roster in need of an overhaul. The Jayhawks needed a late score to beat South Dakota for their one win and have allowed an average -- an average -- of 518 yards and 47 points against two FBS opponents.
MICHIGAN STATE over Nebraska, giving 5
Normally the fear here is that this looks like a trap game for the surprising and 3-0 Spartans after their dominant victory at Miami last week. But Nebraska is coming off an emotionally-wrenching loss to old rival Oklahoma on the road, having spent itself just to be competitive. MSU QB Payton Thorne passed a major test at Miami (261 passing yards, four TDs) and has nine TD passes without an interception. Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III has provided the balance in the running game. We saw the good Adrian Martinez at Oklahoma last week, but his history is he is always on the verge of a turnover meltdown. Huskers will be without injured Gabe Ervin, one of their top RBs, for this one.
Louisville at FLORIDA STATE, giving 1 1/2
No, this is not an over-reaction the dumpster fire that Florida State has become. This is a reaction to a team that looks like it has quit on its coach. Seminoles were manhandled by Wake last week -- imagine ever uttering that when Bobby Bowden walked the sidelines -- and could be 0-4 for the first time since 1974. FSU QBs have combined for seven INTs and there's just no life left in this team. Cardinals should have some momentum after a dramatic win over UCF and it appears QB Malik Cunningham will be healthy for this after tweaking his ankle last week. He will be the most talented player on the field. Louisville's only loss so far -- to Ole Miss -- suddenly isn't looking all that bad either.
BYU over Usf, giving 23
If Oregon is the best team in the Pac-12, BYU might be the second best. having opened with three straight wins over Pac-12 opponents (with Utah and Arizona State ranked at the time). The Cougars' defense has been exceptional, holding ASU to 17 points last week, and the unit has forced seven turnovers already. Jaren Hall isn't Zach Wilson but he has been solid at QB as a dual threat. Bulls have been outscored 87-20 by both FBS opponents so far and have turned to a freshman, Jimmy McClain, at QB. BYU's defense may fly him in by charter to Provo to make sure he gets there. USF is 1-13 in its past 14 games.
West Virginia over OKLAHOMA, taking 16 1/2
Is it just me or have others noticed that the Sooners are living off their reputation so far? A five-point home win over Tulane, a six-point home win over Nebraska -- neither team will finish above .500 -- and an offense that has sputtered too often. QB Spencer Rattler has been good but he was supposed to be Heisman-great and hasn't been so far, leaving the defense to carry this team at times. WVU's stout defense held firm with a goal line stand in the final minute of a win against Virginia Tech and has been solid all year, allowing just 424 yards combined the past two games. Mountaineers need QB Jarret Doege to stay away from mistakes. They can hurt OU on the ground with Leddie Brown.
Arkansas over Texas A&M, taking 5 1/2 (in Arlington, Texas)
The smart play here is probably under 47.5 because of how good both defenses are and because the Razorbacks are run-dominant -- one of five teams in the country to have rushed for 240 yards or more every game so far. Given that A&M's offensive strength is its running game as well, this projects as low scoring. Arkansas needs QB K.J. Jefferson to continue his gradual improvement and they need to confuse Aggies QB Zach Calzada the way they did Texas' frosh QB Hudson Card in a 40-21 rout two weeks ago. Calzada, a sophomore who was pressed into action due to an injury to starter Haynes King, was solid in his starting debut last week. But that was against New Mexico. This is an SEC opponent. Big difference.
Last week vs. spread: 4-2
Season to date vs. spread: 13-5
Home team in CAPS